Sweet Rufina

It is with the heaviest of hearts that I write to let friends & fans of Rufina that my nightmare of the past eight years has come true: my beloved hen was killed by raccoons last night. This amazing, resilient, gentle creature’s life came to a violent end because I forgot to lock her hutch. The same night that f-ing marauding raccoons were on the hunt. I even heard them screaming, the raccoons, sounding like cats in a fight … I got up in the middle of the night, turned on the yard lights & didn’t see anything. But the lights don’t go as far as the back of the yard where Rufina’s hutch is.

After all she’s been through — shot in the head, adjustment to the loss of her eyes & life as a blind hen, losing half her body weight because of some kind of fungal illness 2 summers ago (successfully treated), two episodes of almost dying of heat stroke when she wandered too far away from shade and water — I just wanted her to have a natural death in her own time. I didn’t want her story to end this way and my heart is broken at the thought, at my failure, and at the stillness and silence of the yard.

I might have the energy to write an obituary at some point, but right now I’m just too sad. Here are a few pictures of my sweet girl, 9-yrs-old at the time of her death (and still laying a few eggs a week, which is truly amazing).

Beautiful girl with her strange scaly legs and feet damaged by frost bite.

Sunning herself the way she like to do on a winter afternoon, lying down with wing out to soak up the warmth.

Shiny and black but not really black at all.

And here, buried this morning at her favorite sunning spot with a handful of flowers. I love her so.

10 thoughts on “Sweet Rufina

  1. I understand your sadness. I had a goose named Greta that was killed by a coyote because I let her out of the chicken pen. I had followed your stories about Rufina – one amazing hen. So sorry. Raccoons are so destructive. I’ve purchased a peppermint spray that is supposed to keep them away – they have been digging up my flower beds looking for grubs. Look for a couple of chicks for your empty silent yard.

    • Thanks Glennda. So, you understand that sense of failure as the person who was supposed to keep your animals safe 😦 I wonder if it’s skunks digging up your flowers? I’ve read that they like bulbs and grubs. I think my chicken days are over, especially now that I know that these particular raccoons (as opposed to last summer’s, who were interested in fish & toads but not the chickens, far as I could tell) are out and about. Too much stress worrying over their safety. But thank you.

  2. Oh, I’m just so SORRY this happened. What a heartbreaking thing & especially painful given the circumstances—I have to admit that even though I didn’t know Rufina, I cried reading your post. I’m dreading the loss of our 21-year-old one-eyed, mostly deaf, scrawny scarecrow of a cat who has begun to pee everywhere lately but is still so beautiful & precious in our eyes. Rufina was SO beautiful, not in spite of all her tribulations but because of them (and oh, those gorgeous blue-black feathers). She was obviously such a special creature. I’m so, so sorry for your loss…

    • Thank you, I appreciate your kind words. I am so heartbroken. She was my little soul sister for these years, an example of survival and contented living despite circumstances. My heart goes out to you with your elder kitty… those days when you wonder “is it time?” are the worst. Sweet thing.

  3. This is such sad news – a real blow after such a hard year, and especially after you saved her so many times. She has given as much to you (and us, in your sharing of her life with you) as you have her. I am so very sorry.

    • Thanks Maggi. Certainly not the way I wanted Rufina’s journey to end. And yes, I’m the lucky one for getting to care for her for the past 8 years, a chicken I never thought would live more than a few days.

  4. Oh Laura, I am so sad to hear this news. It made me cry, I have loved Rufina from your posts. My heart goes out to you during this tragic time. I hope you are gentle with yourself and I can see how much she brought to your life. I am just so sorry to read this.

    • Thanks Ginger. I realize now she was the heartbeat of my back yard world and it’s just such an absence. Such a wrong ending to the story I wanted for her. I appreciate you thinking of us.❤️

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